Exciting power stations of Denmark
March 3, 2017 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Denmark leads the world on new approaches to efficient, low carbon energy generation. Here are some of the most interesting. Spoiler: The most exciting one has a ski-slope on top.

You’ll be aware that the classic 3-bladed Danish concept wind turbine is now manufactured and installed all over the world. The World’s first commercial wind turbine was only 22kW, the biggest now available are 8MW and has 80m blades. Siemens is aiming to move to 10MW turbines and beyond. While growing its turbines (their own 8MW device just broke the world record for wind generation in 24 hours) Danish market leader Vestas is also attempting to take the sector in a new direction however. This summer it installed four turbines on a single tower. While each of the four turbines on this tower is relatively small if they can be made to fit together this offers potential for much lower costs. Vestas’ first goal is to solve the problems of having four sets of blades moving in close proximity. Copenhagen’s Avedøre power station unit 2 is 15 years old. When commissioned it was expected to burn gas but equipped to run on a mixture of fuels including biomass, over time it has come to run on input up to 100% straw. Because Denmark tolerates location of power stations near urban centres its heat output can be fed directly into the Copenhagen district heating system. A shared electricity grid with Sweden allows the cogeneration plant to maximise outputs of electricity and heat. This and pioneering design means that it can achieve up to 91.5% efficiency.

A descendant of Avedøre, Copenhagen’s new Amager Bakke cogen power station, due online in 2017, also runs on a mix of fuels including waste. It ups efficiency to 99% by being able to max out capacity through a deal to sell excess power and thus maintain its most efficient energy balance. More than that, it takes innovation a step further by utilising its 41,000sqm of rooftop to provide a recreational ski slope and a chance to ski the Copenhill. Interview with the architect. Further, to remind everyone in Copenhagen of their own carbon footprint, the power station will be set up to emit a ‘smoke ring’ (actually steam) to represent every 250kg of CO2 of its own emissions.
posted by biffa (9 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Exciting power stations of Denmark

That sounds like the title of a Monty Python sketch.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:34 AM on March 3, 2017 [9 favorites]


I knew before opening the link that BIG would be involved in this. Bjarke Ingels loves the idea of buildings as landforms.
posted by Flashman at 10:39 AM on March 3, 2017


Pretty awesome stuff.
posted by Artw at 10:51 AM on March 3, 2017


The great thing about Waste to Energy that people don't realize is that it's a massive offset to GHG emissions.

1) You're not pulling oil out of the ground along with its ancillary GHG emissions (which are dramatically rising as pulling oil out of the Earth gets harder and more energy intensive).

2) Every ton you burn is a ton of garbage you're not burying and having bacteria turn into methane which is an even more potent GHG.

3) The metal you can pull out of completed WTE combustion can be recycled which takes far less energy than manufacturing new materials.

Of course it's not quite the zero you get with solar but come on, they're up on the 56th parallel. They're not going to get quite the same irradiance as southern Europe.
posted by Talez at 10:52 AM on March 3, 2017 [8 favorites]


In the news today, another Dane has plunged to their death after skiing off the inexplicably vertical sides of the Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:44 AM on March 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


That sounds like the title of a Monty Python sketch.

It's actually very close to a really interesting series on Netflix called "Occupied" set in Norway.
posted by srboisvert at 12:09 PM on March 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Talez: "2) Every ton you burn is a ton of garbage you're not burying and having bacteria turn into methane which is an even more potent GHG."
Sounds great. Except we don't do much landfill in Denmark.

In fact, recycling is so widespread that the city of Copenhagen is going to have to import waste from other countries to keep the plant running … it's a massively oversized vanity project.
posted by brokkr at 1:31 AM on March 4, 2017


In fact, recycling is so widespread that the city of Copenhagen is going to have to import waste from other countries to keep the plant running … it's a massively oversized vanity project.

You may have to import waste but recycling can't deal with biowaste which is often ~60% of what these WTE plants burn. The other ~40% is non recyclable plastics. Without a national composting program for biowaste that's going to be landfilled and undergo anaerobic decomposition turning it into methane. Even then with composting you're still turning it into the same CO2 that you would by burning it (it's biowaste after all) which means you're not getting usable power and heat out of it but still getting emissions.
posted by Talez at 5:46 AM on March 4, 2017


Talez: "You may have to import waste but recycling can't deal with biowaste which is often ~60% of what these WTE plants burn. The other ~40% is non recyclable plastics. Without a national composting program for biowaste that's going to be landfilled and undergo anaerobic decomposition turning it into methane."
Copenhagen residents are going to be sorting their food waste out of the normal trash. The ARC is going to be burning waste from five municipalities but the biggest one, accounting for almost 75% of the population, isn't going to be putting their residential biowaste into it. It's going to feed another new biogas power plant which opens in 2020.

Also, in order to meet Copenhagen's target of having net zero CO2 emissions in 2025, the ARC will probably have to remove most of the plastics from the waste before burning. (According to that article, average plastic content in Danish waste is 11%, by the way - though it doesn't say if that's by weight or volume.) Not sure what they'll do with it, but landfill is a guess. This will lower the energy produced per ton of waste burned, so they'll have to import even more overseas waste (and pay to have the plastic removed from it) to keep the plant humming and Copenhagen apartments warm and hyggelige.
posted by brokkr at 12:36 PM on March 6, 2017


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